New Mexico Social Work License Requirements

Learn About The Social Work License in New Mexico. See Requirements for the LBSW, LMSW and LCSW Licenses

Table of Contents

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE) issues three social work licenses:

Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) – This allows you to engage in generalist entry-level social work practice. You can work with individuals, communities, families, and groups. Types of activities you can engage in at a basic level include:

  • Evaluations and interventions
  • Community organization
  • Development and implementation of activities, programs, and policies
  • Case management and counseling
  • Referrals and assessment planning’s

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) – This license allows you to engage in the same scope of practice as LBSWs, and to additionally use specialized advanced knowledge to provide direct and indirect services to a specific population focus or within a particular field. As an LMSW you can interpret and explain the results of psychosocial evaluations. You can also engage in clinical social work under authorized supervision.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – This license allows you to engage in social work and clinical social work at advanced levels. You can work independently and provide interventions that are directly related to individuals, families, couples, and groups. With additional training you can become qualified to supervise LMSWs. An LCSW can also be referred to as a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW).

Steps Towards Social Work Licensure in New Mexico

To be licensed at any level from the New Mexico Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE) you’ll need to complete the following:

  • Earn a degree in Social Work from a school that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE); have your school send your official transcripts to the BSWE when you apply for licensure
  • Pass the appropriate exam sponsored by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
  • Pass a New Mexico jurisprudence exam – this is included in your application for licensure
  • Complete a course in New Mexico cultures – this is automatically included in ASWB-accredited social work programs in New Mexico

A one-year provisional license may be granted pending passage of the ASWB exam and completion of the New Mexico cultures course.

Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)


    1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.
    2. Submit an application for LBSW licensure to the BSWE; $75 fee. Once the BSWE approves your application it will issue you a provisional license and notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
    3. Register with the ASWB for its Bachelors exam. Once you pass this the BSWE will issue your LBSW license.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)


    1. Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
    2. Submit an application for LMSW licensure to the BSWE; $100 fee. Once the BSWE approves your application it will issue you a provisional license and notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
    3. Register with the ASWB for its Masters exam. Once you pass this the BSWE will issue your LMSW license.

Note – Once you’re a licensed LMSW you can start accruing hours to count towards fulfilling the LCSW’s supervised experience requirement. You can find a list of approved supervisors here and on the BSWE’s website. You and your supervisor must write a Supervisory Plan. Keep track of the hours of your supervision on the Verification of Supervision Form contained within this packet. Once you’ve fulfilled the hours of the supervised experience requirement, your supervisor must submit a Final Evaluation to the BSWE within 30 days.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)


    1. Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
    2. Complete 3,600 hours of post-graduate social work experience as an LMSW under the supervision of a board-approved supervisor. This must be completed over a period of at least two years and include 90 hours of face-to-face supervision. Once this is completed include your Supervisory Plan and the Verification of Supervision Form with your LCSW application.
    3. Submit an application for LCSW licensure to the BSWE; $125 fee. Once the BSWE approves your application it will issue you a provisional license and notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
    4. Register with the ASWB for its Clinical exam. Once you pass this the BSWE will issue your LCSW license.

Becoming an Approved Supervisor

  • You can opt to become an approved supervisor for LMSWs who are fulfilling their supervised work experience to become an LCSW by submitting this application to the BSWE. To qualify you need to be a licensed LCSW and complete an approved 3-hour course on supervision. Approved supervision classes are also listed here.
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    Renewing Your Social Work License

    All social work licenses issued by the BSWE expire every two years on July 1st. If the last digit of your license number is even, then your license expires in even-numbered years. If it’s odd, then your license expires in odd-numbered years. You can renew your license by submitting this form to the BSWE along with your renewal fee. For each two-year renewal period, to be eligible for renewal you need to attest to completing 30 hours of continuing education, including six hours in cultural competency. Renewal fees are:

    • LBSW – $100
    • LMSW – $150
    • LCSW – $200

    How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker in New Mexico?

    Once you graduate from high school you could be working as a licensed LBSW in four years. That’s the time it typically takes to earn a BSW degree. Investing about two years beyond that into earning an MSW degree will fulfill the education requirements for both the LMSW and LCSW licenses. Finally, gaining at least two years of supervised work experience can fully qualify you for the LCSW; an eight-year total investment.

    Social Work Degrees in New Mexico

    If you want to become licensed in New Mexico then you must earn a degree from a social work program that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Right now there are seven such programs in the state, including four that are offered online. While the CSWE doesn’t accredit doctoral degrees in Social Work, you also have the option studying in one of these programs to gain the highest-possible level of education in this field.

      Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)

      New Mexico is home to four CSWE-accredited BSW programs, including three that have online study options. Completing one of these will qualify you for the LBSW license. These programs are at least 120 semester credits. Being CSWE-accredited means a BSW includes a field education segment that’s at least 400 hours. Once you’ve earned a BSW, transitioning into an MSW program can be seamless.

      Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)

      Right now you can find three CSWE-accredited MSW programs in New Mexico, including one that’s offered online. Completing one of these fulfills the education requirement for both the LMSW and LCSW licenses. By nature of being CSWE-accredited these programs contain a 900-hour field education experience, a great opportunity to see textbook social work being put into action in the real world.

      Doctoral Degree in Social Work

      While earning a degree at this level won’t fulfill licensing requirements, it does demonstrate that you’ve made a firm commitment to expertise in this field. It’s also a way to maximize your professional career opportunities. Programs can be offered as more research-intensive PhDs, or as Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degrees, which can be more clinically focused.


    If you’ve held an equivalent social work license in another state for at least five years you can qualify for licensure in New Mexico via reciprocity provided your out-of-state license is in good standing, is current, and its requirements were similar to New Mexico’s. The New Mexico BSWE needs to receive official verification of your out-of-state licensure from your state’s board of social work, and your ASWB exam scores forwarded to them by the ASWB. Follow the application process outlined above to apply, and on your application indicate that you’re applying via “Credentials/Reciprocity.”

    Social Work Salaries in New Mexico

    In 2020 the US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salaries for these social work careers, specifically for New Mexico:

    • Social and Community Service Manager – $66,400
    • Healthcare Social Worker – $58,720
    • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $49,220
    • Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $44,430
    • Social Worker, All Other – $57,500

    Social Work Resources in New Mexico

    New Mexico Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers – This local chapter’s membership is about 1,000-strong, representing the professional voice of social workers in New Mexico. Its parent organization is the largest of its kind in the nation. You can find networking opportunities, career resources, and information about the latest legislative updates with this local chapter.

    Career Opportunities in New Mexico

    New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) – This state-level agency runs its own programs and partners with local agencies throughout New Mexico. It provides resources for some of the state’s most vulnerable populations that relate to topics including developmental disabilities, substance abuse treatment, chronic disease prevention, families and infants, and mental health treatment.

    New Mexico Human Services Department – This state-level agency manages a budget of more than $7 billion for services it delivers to over 800,000 low-income New Mexicans. It provides support through programs that address issues including nutrition for the homeless, school nutrition assistance, refugee resettlement, and behavioral health services, including for issues like substance abuse, compulsive gambling, and mental illnesses.

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    New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute – Operated by the DOH, this is the only state owned and operated psychiatric hospital in New Mexico. It has five clinical divisions including an inpatient care division, which alone provides services for approximately 1,000 admitted clients each year. It also has divisions focused on care for adolescents and long-term care services.

    Albuquerque Public Schools – The largest district in the state and among the top-40 largest nationwide, this district is responsible for educating nearly 84,000 students by the most recent count. That’s more than a quarter of all students in New Mexico. A team of 6,000 dedicated teachers and an additional 6,000 staff do this from 143 schools throughout the district’s territory.

    Albuquerque Behavioral Health – This substance abuse and behavioral health agency offers treatments for a wide spectrum of clientele facing varied challenges. It operates in-patient programs as well as group and individual counseling. Clients can be walk-ins, appointments, and those requiring mental health services due to court orders. This agency also provides continuing education workshops for licensed mental health professionals.

    Presbyterian Healthcare Services – This healthcare service provider operates countless urgent care clinics and doctors offices throughout the state, as well as nine hospitals. Its fleet of services include those addressing mental and behavioral health issues, which it provides through 17 behavioral health clinics.

    Las Cruces Public Schools – The most recent statistics show that 24,648 students rely on around 3,200 employees for their foundational education from the second-largest school district in the state. Students attend any one of this district’s 40 schools, which include 24 elementary, eight middle, and seven high schools.